Farm group honors area legislator for sponsorship | VailDaily.com

Farm group honors area legislator for sponsorship

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DENVER — Colorado State Representative Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat who represents Eagle and Routt counties, has been named Legislator of the Year for 2015 by Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. The award recognizes a lawmaker whose actions show commitment to farmers, ranchers and local communities. Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Dale McCall presented Mitsch Bush with a plaque honoring her during the organization's 2016 Legislative Drive-In.

'Ranchers do so much'

Mitsch Bush in the 2015 legislative session was a sponsor of and advocate for proposed legislation to encourage established producers to lease equipment and land to beginning farmers and ranchers. The law called for using a modest tax incentive. Although the bill passed in the House, it was defeated in the Colorado Senate. She is sponsoring a similar bill in this year's state legislative session.

"Our future is having young farmers and ranchers on the land," Mitch Bush said after accepting the recognition. "Ranchers do so much for our communities. They keep that wonderful (agriculture) tradition alive of caring about the land, about the people, about their families."

McCall said Rocky Mountain Farmers Union appreciates all representatives, senators and other elected or appointed officials who understand the challenges facing farmers, ranchers and rural communities. The legislative event attracted Farmers Union members from across Colorado. "There are fewer and fewer of us farming and ranching. It's important for each one of us to show up and let lawmakers hear from us," McCall said.

Senator Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican from Sterling who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, said agriculture issues are not partisan in nature. He said rural communities are struggling to maintain health care and roads, attract qualified teachers and maintain employment opportunities.

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Senator Kerry Donovan, a Democrat from Vail, also addressed group members about her proposal to set up a grant program to assist rural communities hit hard by job losses. She said job losses are harmful whenever and wherever they occur, yet rural residents often have fewer options, which results in them leaving their small towns.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 22,000 members in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The grassroots organization emphasizes educational, legislative and cooperative solutions to provide opportunities for its members.

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